Neuroticism, Musical Emotion Regulation, and Mental Health


Dave Miranda


Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain




Recent personality research suggests that trait negative emotionality—traditionally known as neuroticism in the Big Five—is associated with musical emotion regulation in youth, which may imply that young people who are more emotionally negative tend to listen to music to manage their emotions. However, the various emotional mediators that bind neuroticism, musical emotion regulation, and mental health are not well understood. The objective of this study is to examine if various adaptive and maladaptive forms of musical emotion regulation can mediate the potential negative impact of neuroticism on internalizing symptoms (depression and anxiety symptoms) in youth. A sample of 1,137 undergraduate students (17- to 21-year-olds) filled out an online self-report questionnaire. Results suggest that 4 forms of emotion regulation when listening to music (rumination, discharging negative emotions, avoidant coping, and liking sad music) may respectively mediate some of the putative impact of neuroticism on internalizing symptoms. These findings were robust (incremental validity), given that general (nonmusical) emotion regulation and coping strategies were statistically controlled. Overall, such findings integrate 4 complementary research perspectives on neuroticism and musical emotion regulation: deductive (based on mainstream psychology), inductive (rooted in music psychology), musical coping with stress, and negative trait-congruence (liking sad music reflects trait negative emotionality). In sum, this study sheds new light on the possibility that neuroticism is a personality trait primarily associated with problematic musical emotion regulation strategies that are in turn tied with symptoms of depression and anxiety in youth. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Coping; Depression; Emotional Functioning; Mental Health; Questionnaires; Self-Report Measures; Stress

Indexed Terms

neuroticism; coping; emotion regulation; mental health; Emotional Regulation; Negative Emotions; Anxiety; Coping Behavior; Likability; Major Depression

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

Document Type